I was at the library twice yesterday. Once with my kids in the morning, once without the kids in the afternoon.
At 9:30 am, the police presence at the library was noticeable enough that my kids pointed it out before we even parked our car.
Luckily for staff, patrons, and police, there was no violence at the library.
By my count, the organization in question had a huge turnout — six individuals total — which I suspect is quite a success for them. (The Telegram account says that there were three people, and there were at the two times Elaine Thompson approached them. However, there were more members buzzing around.)
On Youtube, a member stated that “the meeting went off without a problem. So much for your grand victory over us evil racists.”
Of course, they denied they were members — they were just there for the fine reading tables. And for the most part they were silently reading. But — hey — brag away on Youtube!
The members who were there left around 5pm, and took a group shot outside the Library Lane entrance. They then proceeded to take pictures of library staff and at least one member of the Friends (and yours truly) who were sitting by the Major Taylor monument.
I will continue to support that group’s right to meet at the library despite the dirty looks they gave me and the pictures they took of me.
I think that folks who say that the City Council is “responsible for allowing these fascists to come to our city” because they didn’t discuss the Arizona anti-immigration law are naive and quite possibly just as much of a problem as the white supremacists. I disagree with these people just as vehemently as I do the white supremacists, but I will fight for both to be able to peacefully express their views.
The beat of this blog tends to be the things I love best: public works projects and the library. I was asked once by Shaun Sutner why I covered these types of boring topics. As events of the past couple of weeks have shown, these are not boring topics at all — these are things that affect each of us and which we all care about.
There will be discussions about the library meeting room policy soon. One of the proposals might be to restrict meeting room reservations to Worcester residents only.
This white supremacist organization has members in Worcester. That type of proposal will not stop ‘undesirable’ groups from meeting at the library.
Nor should we restrict them from meeting at the library, as long as they are peaceful and not inciting violence.
I hate what these people stand for, but the only way to address their ideas head-on is to allow them their first amendment rights. The folks who were out protesting do not ultimately believe that their opponents have those rights. That’s why I wasn’t out protesting. I was in the library out of solidarity with the library staff and as a patron. I value my rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, and I still feel the library is one of the best places to ensure those freedoms.
There are other ways to protest hatred, and I would like to thank the wonderful Friends of the Worcester Public Library for their silent protest against the white supremacists:
For your reading pleasure, Cathy suggests an excellent post about public speech; a highlight:
Someone who’s holding a sign you don’t agree with isn’t your enemy. You may find it reprehensible or you may agree with what ever’s on that sign, but the holder is not your enemy. That sign holder is your fellow citizen, however mistaken you may think he is. Your real enemy is someone who seeks to remove the sign and silence what’s he’s trying to say.